Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: JAC +2/CHI -2
Over/Under Total: 47
The Jacksonville Jaguars come to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Jaguars were able to get a bye week after scoring their first win of the season with a win in London in week four over the Indianapolis Colts, 30-27. It was a good way to go into their week off with some positivity after a rough 0-3 start. Maybe they can start fulfilling some of the promise they had at the beginning of the season. The Bears gave it a good go on Sunday, but fell to a disheartening 1-4 after a 29-23 road loss to the Colts. They hope to benefit from coming back home where they beat Detroit the previous week for their first win of the season.
The win in London was critical for Jacksonville. First, it allowed the Jags to not have two weeks to ruminate on an 0-4 record, as the win at least offered some glimpse of hope. And it very well could have saved coach Gus Bradley's job, as the Jags were supposed to see a little surge this season, something that wasn't evident through the first three games of the season. Still, the Jags haven't been that terrible, despite an uneven start to the season. In week one, they were competitive with the Packers, losing 27-23. A bad loss in San Diego was hard to sugar-coat, as the Jaguars were never in the game. Against the Ravens, Jacksonville saw a late 54-yard FG spoil another possible win. In London, however, they were able to build up a 23-6 lead and hold up under the inevitable Andrew Luck comeback, while a late Blake Bortles-to-Allen Hurns TD catch-and-run helped secure the win, one they needed badly.
Against Indy, we saw what Jacksonville can do when they're on. Bortles can throw the ball well and has a pair of receivers in Hurns and Allen Robinson who can do a lot of damage on the right day. Other contributors have started to manifest aerially, including TE Julius Thomas, Marqise Lee, and others. It's a group that could come around, though they've been slow to form into the dependable scoring unit the franchise envisioned. It would really help if they could develop a more consistently-delivering ground game and against the Colts, we saw some of that, with TJ Yeldon having a nice game, as Chris Ivory began making some contributions. It's an offense that has the potential to congeal and really be something, though they've been slow to do so.
The week off should also help the Jacksonville defense shake off some nagging injuries, with Teshaun Gipson, Jared Odrick, and Dan Skuta getting healthy hopefully. Through four games, the defense hasn't played badly, particularly against the pass, where opposing quarterbacks have been held to respectable totals. Some turnovers by the offense put the "D" in some tough spots in recent weeks, but with a little help from their friends, they can be pretty good. And with newly-added Malik Jackson in the middle of the line, they could be a little stiffer against the run, though they're beginning to foster a decent pass-rush.
The Bears' offense had some good signs on Sunday, though they were only able to put up 23 points. This is despite QB Brian Hoyer throwing for 397 yards and rookie back Jordan Howard running for 118 yards and catching a TD pass. Both Hoyer and Howard have given this offense a new look for the past few weeks and we'll see how the Hoyer situation plays out with Cutler getting increasingly healthy. In addition to Howard, the Bears saw another player manifest, as sparsely-used Cameron Meredith caught 9 balls for 130 yards and a touchdown. The problem is in the follow-through. They can gain yardage and have been doing it at a rabid clip at times in the past two weeks and to only extract 40 points in those pair of games is criminal. Still, they're dangerous offensively.
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The Chicago offense strung out the "D" a bit late, as they lost control of the game after leading as late as halfway through the 4th quarter. The Colts employed a high-tempo offense and the Bears kept it somewhat respectable. Willie Young was big with three sacks, with Akiem Hicks adding another. They're not terrible, but they're not terribly impactful either.
The Jags are out of their element a bit in this spot, with a lot of guys seeing their first-ever action at Soldier Field. But the Bears haven't really been too good at home, actually playing worse there than on the road for the last year or so. One wonders how a road Jacksonville defense will hold up against a suddenly-effervescent Chicago offense. Then again, the Jags are coming off a win and a break, whereas the Bears are coming off a draining road loss. So while it's at home, the Bears might not be as fresh as Jacksonville. And having to give points with the Bears at this point can't feel good. Still, I see their offense keeping them ahead for the big win.
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